Category: rearing

Regular

Adventures in Giant Caterpillars

Earlier today, I posted this ask from @witchyfishyfun [link] about a wandering prepupal Imperial Moth caterpillar. Well. Guess what?

We staged a secretive handover in a parking lot off an interstate.

LOOOOOK!!!!!

I was right about baby being prepupal, he had turned PINK! by the time I picked him up! For whatever reason, many caterpillars tend to turn pink before pupating.

I love him!!!

Okay, enough nonsense, let’s let him pupate already. I gave him the Bowl o’ Dirt with Leaf Garnish, snapped the lid on, and put him in the nice, cool, dark garage.

GOOD LUCK BABY!!!

November 8, 2018

I love these buttheads. Hackberry Emperor cate…

I love these buttheads. Hackberry Emperor caterpillar (Asterocampa celtis).

October 26, 2018

Regular

nanonaturalist:

Giant Leopard Moth

I am inexcusably behind on introducing y’all to one of my new babies. Please meet:

This fuzzy bab. It’s good advice to never touch fuzzy or furry caterpillars, because sometimes they sting. But, if you know, for sure, what a caterpillar is, and you know it doesn’t sting, then it’s fine. The older caterpillars of these moths are very easy to identify, and they are safe. The above photos are NOT of an older caterpillar, though! I wasn’t sure yet, so I let him hang out on my front porch.

Above photos from October 14, 2018

A few days later (October 17), I found the bab, but bigger, fuzzier, and orangier! Those thin orange rings between body segments will identify this black fuzzy caterpillar as a Leopard Moth! In my area, Giant Leopard Moths are the most common, so that’s what I have him identified as. At that point, I brought him inside. I mean, look at this face:

It had been a little while, so I went looking for him today, and I found him hibernating (?) in this dried up leaf!

You may be wondering what happens to all these caterpillars over the winter. How do they stay safe when it gets so cold? They will enter a state similar to hibernation called “diapause.” Essentially, they stop eating, they may change color or shape, and they find a safe place to be while they wait out the winter. Many moths and butterflies “overwinter” as a pupa. Moths have the added protection of their cocoons to stay safe. But some butterflies overwinter as a chrysalis, too! One of my favorite childhood memories was finding a Swallowtail butterfly chrysalis in the pile of branches my dad had pruned off our bushes, putting it into a container, and checking it one day in early spring to find the butterfly had emerged!

But! Many caterpillars stay in caterpillar form over the winter. They can stay camouflaged, but they can also respond to threats by periodically moving around. My Tawny Emperor babies will overwinter as younger caterpillars. And Leopard Moths also overwinter in caterpillar form! I’m not sure if my fuzzy baby is overwintering or getting ready to molt (I had caterpillars into November/December last year!). My guess is he’s about to molt, but it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about diapause!

I didn’t mention: some species will overwinter as adults! Question Mark and Comma butterflies are some examples. Their wings resemble dead fall leaves for a reason!

October 24, 2018

@cyberpunk-assassin That’s a good idea! Make sure the enclosure is in a safe secure spot away from rain and wind that could knock it over. You may also want to protect the caterpillar from parasites by putting a piece of fabric or paper towel over the top (the critter keeper lid will keep it in place). Do remember to check on him regularly! Some bugs will stay active way later than you expect, so he may need fresh food before he enters diapause.

Good luck!

Regular

Giant Leopard Moth

I am inexcusably behind on introducing y’all to one of my new babies. Please meet:

This fuzzy bab. It’s good advice to never touch fuzzy or furry caterpillars, because sometimes they sting. But, if you know, for sure, what a caterpillar is, and you know it doesn’t sting, then it’s fine. The older caterpillars of these moths are very easy to identify, and they are safe. The above photos are NOT of an older caterpillar, though! I wasn’t sure yet, so I let him hang out on my front porch.

Above photos from October 14, 2018

A few days later (October 17), I found the bab, but bigger, fuzzier, and orangier! Those thin orange rings between body segments will identify this black fuzzy caterpillar as a Leopard Moth! In my area, Giant Leopard Moths are the most common, so that’s what I have him identified as. At that point, I brought him inside. I mean, look at this face:

It had been a little while, so I went looking for him today, and I found him hibernating (?) in this dried up leaf!

You may be wondering what happens to all these caterpillars over the winter. How do they stay safe when it gets so cold? They will enter a state similar to hibernation called “diapause.” Essentially, they stop eating, they may change color or shape, and they find a safe place to be while they wait out the winter. Many moths and butterflies “overwinter” as a pupa. Moths have the added protection of their cocoons to stay safe. But some butterflies overwinter as a chrysalis, too! One of my favorite childhood memories was finding a Swallowtail butterfly chrysalis in the pile of branches my dad had pruned off our bushes, putting it into a container, and checking it one day in early spring to find the butterfly had emerged!

But! Many caterpillars stay in caterpillar form over the winter. They can stay camouflaged, but they can also respond to threats by periodically moving around. My Tawny Emperor babies will overwinter as younger caterpillars. And Leopard Moths also overwinter in caterpillar form! I’m not sure if my fuzzy baby is overwintering or getting ready to molt (I had caterpillars into November/December last year!). My guess is he’s about to molt, but it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about diapause!

I didn’t mention: some species will overwinter as adults! Question Mark and Comma butterflies are some examples. Their wings resemble dead fall leaves for a reason!

October 24, 2018

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Mystery Tussock Moth caterpillar livepost continues! Unsettling egg raft and hatching photos over here (trypophobia warning!)[link] 

The babes are still pretty small, but oh boy they are HUNGRY. Their poops changed color from yellow to the standard green color. They are escape artists and I have to continually put them back into their habitat when I’m feeding them (I use a paintbrush to move them, very convenient!), and there are SO MANY of them. 

September 8, 2018

They are still so tiny but SO FURRY!! Look at all that FLUFF!! These babes are a pain in the butt and are constantly trying to escape. I can’t wait for them to get bigger and fluffier.

September 9, 2018

First Molt Underway

Prepare for

The Fluffening

Their head capsule includes the earmuff dongles I’m d y i n g

September 10, 2018

First Molt Complete

Still no idea who they are!

I did an enclosure change today. How do you move hoardes of tiny caterpillars, you ask?

See related video, Painting by Caterpillar: Tussock moth

September 11, 2018

They’re perfect

Starting to look a little more tussocky! Still very small.

September 12, 2018

I have been a bad caterpillar liveposter, BUT these things have molted a second time and they are still almost impossible to see without a microscope.

If anything, the fluffier they get, the harder they are to see!

These are from last night :X

September 15, 2018

They are taking forever and I’m impatient.

This one hadn’t moved in three days or so. Turns out he was just molting??? (That’s his old skin next to him)

September 25, 2018

I guess they’re a little bigger?

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Also, those hairs?

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Don’t touch! The fluffy looking hairs have a strange texture, and they may be the irritating hairs that can cause allergic reactions. I really need to read up on stinging caterpillar anatomy!

October 2, 2018

Are you ready?

I love them 😭

October 11, 2018

I think we have an ID!

Looks like a Yellow-banded Tussock Moth! Still need to see the adults to know for sure, but these babs match the photo in the caterpillar guide perfectly!

October 15, 2018

Large and terrifying

Very cute, but wow those hairs all look like trouble!

October 20, 2018

Punk Hairstyles for the Distinguished Caterpillar

Arching his back… almost like he’s trying to maximize his chances of stinging somebody.

I can’t believe how OLD they are! They just keep growing and molting. I don’t know how big they get, but I believe they still have aways to go.

October 24, 2018

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WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS??

Millions of tiny mystery caterpillars -_-
What do they eat? WHO KNOWS???
What do they turn into? HELL IF I KNOW

Eggs were covered in white fuzz from mamas belly and they have five pairs of prolegs, egg mass was on live oak. I gave them the Polyphagous Caterpillar Variety Pack buffet (rose, live oak, hackberry, and sage). They should eat ONE of those.

Tiny mystery babs are the WORST because how do you keep them in a habitat??? They are SO SMOL. They’re in a lidded food container for now… hopefully they eat everything and grow very large

October 7, 2018

OKAY results of the taste test are in. They are delicious. Wait no that’s not what I meant!!

They nibbled all the plants, but they’re going nuts over rose leaves. So, that’s what they get!

October 8, 2018

The very hungry caterpillars

They are only eating rose, and they have tiny adorable spots. I think they may be tortricid moths.

October 9, 2018

Their hunger is endless

Getting big! Eating the flowers and making pink rose poops 😂

October 12, 2018

Starting to look like somebody!

Hmmmm these look like armyworms…..

They are growing VERY fast! Shouldn’t be long before I know for sure.

October 14, 2018

Yup, they’re armyworms! One of the key giveaways (besides that they… look… like armyworms), is the thing they do where you get your hand anywhere near them, and they DROP! and curl up into The Forbidden Spiral, safely hidden in piles of leaves and grass.

Still pretty small, but actually identifiable now. Next step: which armyworm?

October 24, 2018

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Ready for another caterpillar flavor? I found a Polyphemus moth laying eggs on the side of my house. Brought her inside, put her in an enclosure while I grabbed a paper bag (easier to collect eggs on paper!!!), and she laid FIVE eggs in the 10 seconds it took me to get back to her.

Last year, I struggled with keeping my Polyphemus babes fed, since the trees they eat were not abundant in my yard (they ate all the little saplings down to sticks!). But this year, I anticipated Good Moth Luck, and have let all the elm saplings get big and tall regardless of how inconveniently placed they are. And here we are! 😀

August 31, 2018

Guess who’s here?

Mama moth laid 90 eggs and thankfully I was able to give away most of them. I kept 20 eggs for myself, and they started hatching this morning. Exciting!!

September 8, 2018

My fat babies 😭

I gave away 5 more eggs, and three have yet to hatch, so only 12 caterpillars right now. Much easier than 90!!

September 10, 2018

Newborn Alert!

Compare the size of a newly hatched baby pillar with her two-day-old siblings.

September 10, 2018

Baby’s First Molt

You can see his old face is starting to come off! Exciting!

September 11, 2018

Molting underway!

Fresh new clothes! In the top photo, you can see the baby’s old skin behind him (it’s the dry yellow thing). In the bottom photo, you can see all their discarded head capsules (I circled them). I collect caterpillar faces!

Remember: they are four days old at this point.

September 12, 2018

Gaze upon my large children

September 13, 2018

Oops forgot to post these yesterday!! Got distracted by BIRD NONSENSE

I probably need to feed them again. They are eating machines!!!

September 15, 2018

Important new development: Hairy Toes

September 20, 2018

The molting and cuteness are everlasting. Soon they will have their walrus mustaches.

September 22, 2018

The bigger they get, the sillier their molt dance gets. Check out the complete celebratory ridiculousness here [link to previous post]

Wow wouldn’t it be nice if I could post a video reblog on mobile?!

September 23, 2018

Important

Big n’ fat

September 25, 2018

Absolute Units

These were taken over the course of the past few days (time to retag these as “caterpillar laterposts”?), but as you can see, they are now LORGE. The last photo is a big fat baby molting again to become bigger and fatter.

On Monday, I’m bringing them to a school, where a class of VERY lucky 1st graders gets to MEET THEM and WATCH THEM POOP. Speaking of which, stay tuned because I have the action-gif of the poopening photo third from the bottom.

September 29, 2018

Polyphemus caterpillars: unanimously approved by 25 six-year-old humans

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Yesterday, I brought four of the fatties to Cedar Creek Elementary school where they got to meet a class of 1st graders who are learning about insects. One of them was molting! One of them pooped, they were fat and eating and the kids LOVED them. They kept asking: “Are these REAL?!” You bet!!

I also brought the microscope and showed them some caterpillar faces! Photos above are from yesterday.

And today?

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They grow. Larger and larger!

October 2, 2018

*heavy breathing*

October 3, 2018

Poopin’

October 4, 2018

I’m in love

October 4, 2018 (pm)

Faterpillar Apocalypse

October 6, 2018

How are they not making cocoons yet?!

LOOK HOW FAT

LOOK

October 8, 2018

STOP THEM

Like my new mustache?

October 8/9, 2018

Squeeze gently to check for ripeness.

Ah, yes. Almost ready.

(Where are my cocoons already?!)

October 9, 2018

It is time

The prophesy is realized. As it was foretold,

R O U N D B O Y

has arrived

This prepupal green sausage is making THE FIRST COCOON!!!

October 10, 2018

There are now three cocoons

Top: the first cocoon, babby sewed some leaves to the side the their home so you can see the “naked” cocoon side. They don’t always hide in leaf cocoons, but it’s very common and a good camouflage strategy.

Bottom: the second cocoonis completely enclosed in leaves. The third cocoon looks the same.

The caterpillars were huge, so these cocoons must be MASSIVE, right??

Nope! Check it out:

You remember the first bab got SO FAT WHY? They squeeze themselves like an accordion before they make their cocoon and pupate inside. Adult moths look way bigger than they actually are thanks to their wings. Polyphemus moths are pretty big anyway, but the cocoon and pupa are only about a large as the moths body, the wings are just tiny inflatable flaps until they emerge and pump them up.

Only 9 more to go!

October 12, 2018

Only 3 caterpillars left!

Currently, 9 babies are tucked away in their cocoons. Look how cozy! The three remaining sausages are being their typical ridiculous selves. For example, this:

I mean, sure, this is how I eat my breakfast, too.

October 14, 2018

All the Babs are in Cocoons

The final caterpillar made a cocoon on Friday, and caterpillar season is finally starting to slow down a bit (who am I kidding, caterpillar season in Texas lasts 9 months).

Here’s what happened the 17th through the 20th!

Wandering around, trying to find the perfect pupation location.

Leaf fondling

Drama

Poops! Their poops are typically as big as their heads!

The last caterpillar needed to be original, and made a naked cocoon (no leaves). Here’s the beginning.

All done! The finished cocoons are thick and hard, which protects them during the winter. They will pupate inside the cocoon, and when the moths emerge, they spit out a special enzyme that dissolves the silk so they can emerge. For that reason, it’s important that the cocoons are kept somewhere somewhat humid (similar to the outdoors!), since our homes can be very dry by caterpillar standards. I have a humidifier in the caterpillar room, but you can also spray a mist of water onto them regularly.

October 21, 2018

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturali…

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Mystery Tussock Moth caterpillar livepost continues! Unsettling egg raft and hatching photos over here (trypophobia warning!)[link] 

The babes are still pretty small, but oh boy they are HUNGRY. Their poops changed color from yellow to the standard green color. They are escape artists and I have to continually put them back into their habitat when I’m feeding them (I use a paintbrush to move them, very convenient!), and there are SO MANY of them. 

September 8, 2018

They are still so tiny but SO FURRY!! Look at all that FLUFF!! These babes are a pain in the butt and are constantly trying to escape. I can’t wait for them to get bigger and fluffier.

September 9, 2018

First Molt Underway

Prepare for

The Fluffening

Their head capsule includes the earmuff dongles I’m d y i n g

September 10, 2018

First Molt Complete

Still no idea who they are!

I did an enclosure change today. How do you move hoardes of tiny caterpillars, you ask?

See related video, Painting by Caterpillar: Tussock moth

September 11, 2018

They’re perfect

Starting to look a little more tussocky! Still very small.

September 12, 2018

I have been a bad caterpillar liveposter, BUT these things have molted a second time and they are still almost impossible to see without a microscope.

If anything, the fluffier they get, the harder they are to see!

These are from last night :X

September 15, 2018

They are taking forever and I’m impatient.

This one hadn’t moved in three days or so. Turns out he was just molting??? (That’s his old skin next to him)

September 25, 2018

I guess they’re a little bigger?

image
image
image

Also, those hairs?

image

Don’t touch! The fluffy looking hairs have a strange texture, and they may be the irritating hairs that can cause allergic reactions. I really need to read up on stinging caterpillar anatomy!

October 2, 2018

Are you ready?

I love them 😭

October 11, 2018

I think we have an ID!

Looks like a Yellow-banded Tussock Moth! Still need to see the adults to know for sure, but these babs match the photo in the caterpillar guide perfectly!

October 15, 2018

Large and terrifying

Very cute, but wow those hairs all look like trouble!

October 20, 2018

nanonaturalist: In celebration of my HAVING I…

nanonaturalist:

In celebration of my HAVING INTERNET AT HOME, allow me to share one of my new babies.

This is a Walnut Sphinx caterpillar. They scream when you touch them. It’s to scare off birds. It works on humans too.

October 18, 2018

More Walnut Sphinx!

The video was from the day he starting digging his pupation hole, so you can’t see his cute little face. Here he is before he turned into a mud-covered piggy:

Triangle face!

A little dirty…

Breaded and ready to cook! (In his pupa)

The adults are BEAUTIFUL little sphinxes:

October 18, 2018

In celebration of my HAVING INTERNET AT HOME, …

In celebration of my HAVING INTERNET AT HOME, allow me to share one of my new babies.

This is a Walnut Sphinx caterpillar. They scream when you touch them. It’s to scare off birds. It works on humans too.

October 18, 2018